nplusonemag Down: An Oral History

n+1: Where were you when nplusonemag went down?

Keith Gessen:
I was at home. I didn’t even have my computer with me, actually, so I didn’t know nplusonemag was down until I started getting phone calls.

n+1: From concerned readers?

KG: From Carla. Carla Blumenkranz. Our managing editor.

Carla Blumenkranz:
It was so terrible. I said, “Oh my God, the site is down. This is no way to make cash money.” Also, we’d just gotten a nice link to Julia Gronnevet’s excellent piece. It was going to be a great day for nplusonemag.

What did Keith say?

He said, “Have we been hacked? Were we hacked by hipsters?” I didn’t think so. So I said, “Maybe we’ve been hacked by Republicans?” Keith said, “Why would they do that?” So finally he said, “You have to threaten our service provider.”

KG: I suggested that we contact our service provider. Apparently this can now only be done via online chat.

CB: He said, “Use capital letters.”

n+1: And then?

CB: I initiated a chat with them, and they said, “We don’t actually know what’s wrong, but we’ll start a healing process that may take several hours.” So I threatened them. They said, “If you want to look around for another service provider, you should do that.”

n+1: So what did you do?

CB: We took to Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook. It was like when the paper delivery people went on strike in 1963 and the New York Review of Books stepped into the breach. Our Twitter was the New York Review of Books.

n+1: You wrote a lot of tweets?

CB: Three independent tweets, one reply, one retweet.

n+1: Keith, what were you doing during this time?

KG: Well, I was nervous. Our bottom line was affected. Our customers were unhappy. We were threatening our ISP in g-chat, our readers were threatening us in their minds. Mind-g-chat. At the same time, you know, I’m very ambivalent about the internet. It doesn’t necessarily strengthen the kind of social relations and intellectual engagements that we are most interested in. Also I can’t stop looking at it. So in fact the reason I didn’t have a computer in my apartment at the time our site went down was so I didn’t have to look at the internet. And so I thought, Maybe we’re doing people a favor. Now they are free! Another thought I had was, Maybe now everyone will buy our various print products–issue 10, due out next week, and our hipster book. Also our handsome tote bags. Our online store is on a different server; I thought maybe now that folks couldn’t read anything online, they’d plunk down some cash. I mean, this is the great issue of our time, obviously. Does one’s own online content promote or cannibalize? “Promotion or Cannibalization”–someone should do a book.

n+1: So did that happen? Did people buy stuff?

No. In fact sales were down.

KG: We’re not Amazon.com or anything. But insofar as we have sales, they noticeably dipped.

What does this prove about a print publication’s online presence?

KG: Nothing.

CB: The site was back up and running by 5:30 PM yesterday. You can now read the excellent piece by Julia Gronnevet. Everything is back to normal.

KG: Nothing will ever be the same.

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